May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and its observance is more important than ever. An estimated 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older―about 1 in 4 adults―suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.1
Many suffer in silence because of the stigmas associated with mental illness and mental disorders. Often, people avoid treatment because they may fear losing their job or have concerns that they will be discriminated against in other ways.
According to World Psychiatry, “Many people with serious mental illness are challenged doubly. On one hand, they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the disease. On the other, they are challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that result from misconceptions about mental illness.”2 This results in a lesser quality of life and missed opportunities for those suffering in silence.
If we, as a collective, do not begin to recognize mental health in the same vein as physical health, then some will never feel the freedom to get needed treatment. Mental health is just as important (and in this writer’s opinion), perhaps more important, than physical health. It’s impossible to separate the two. Our well-being manifests in many ways, and in my experience, I have found that my physical health is directly linked to my mental and emotional state.
These past two-plus years have been difficult, at best. With certainty, I can say we are all struggling. The single parents, the caregivers, the health workers, teachers, students; the list is endless. I’m fortunate that my personality lends itself to being open about my struggles, but others aren’t as blessed. Not everyone has the resources they need, family support, or adequate health care. Please know that you are not alone. I see you. I feel you.
Yours in health and, hopefully, happiness.